It takes time, patience and practice to master any kind of photography. Portrait photography is no exception. Having the best camera won’t make you a good photographer, although it helps with the quality, but there is more to it.
To be a good portrait photographer you need to know how to approach your work in the right manner. Therefore, we have compiled a list of tips and guides that will help you to excel in your portrait photography journey. But, first let’s learn what Portrait Photography actually is.
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So, what is Portrait Photography?
Cameras and Equipment
Considering the camera, you can choose any decent one that you prefer. You don’t need a very expensive camera. You can get very decent shots with even the lower budget cameras; the major differences are the additional features that expensive cameras offer.
When it comes to lens, it is important to choose the right one. We recommend you buy a prime lens for portrait photography. It is possible to use something like a zoom lens, but prime lenses tend to produce better quality images.
Popular lenses for portrait photography in terms of focal length are 35mm, 55mm, 85mm. regarding the aperture try to get the lowest numbered one that you can get, for example, f/1.4-f/2.8. The lower the aperture the more light can enter through the lens.
You may want to consider having a tripod, it can help with stability and reducing motion blur. If you don’t prefer to use a tripod, you can definitely hold the camera in your hand and shoot that way. But be sure to increase the shutter speed to avoid motion blue.
Consider using lens filters. These can protect your camera lenses form harmful rays from the sunlight. Also, there are some lens that will help you to compose better shots, for example, UV filter, polarizer filter.
UV filters stops ultraviolet rays from entering the lens and helps to protect it.
Polarizer filter tends to make skies darker, manages reflection and suppresses glare.
Always Shoot in RAW
Selecting the Right Location
Your location will play vital role in setting up the theme and the results of your photo. Whether you are doing indoor or outdoor shooting, choose a place that is less distracting. Your subject should be the prime focus.
We recommend that you should avoid shooting in direct sunlight, as it tends to give a harsh shadow on to the subject.
If you are shooting outdoors, try to shoot in golden hours. If you are not familiar with this term, then golden hour is the period of time right after sunrise and before sunset. During these periods, the sunlight tends to be less harsh and provides a soft warm light.
If you are shooting indoors, then position the subject near the window to get lighter. For indoors also, we recommend shooting at golden hours.
Get your Subject Prepared
Getting in front of the camera is quite unnatural. Even for a professional model, if the environment and the people are new, she might feel uncomfortable.
Before the shoot, take some time and talk to the subject. Let her know what is your goal, how you want the work to be done and what you want her to do. Also ask her for suggestions. If she feels like she is contributing, then it will help her feel comfortable and she will be more engaged with the work.
Also, during the shooting try to crack jokes to make her laugh, it will give more life and emotion to the photo.
Get the Pose Right
After you are done getting your subject ready, its time to get the pose right. If your subject is a professional model then she will know how to pose for the shot, but it she is not a professional than she may not know how to pose, so give her instructions.
Take photos in various styles and positions, to have a variety of shoots. It is also a good idea that you get into the set and show your subject how to pose yourself. It will make her more engaged and comfortable interacting with you.
You can also use the rule of thirds technique if you want to show the background. In the rule of thirds technique, the image is basically divided into 9 blocks, and the subject is places into the intersection point of those blocks.
Also introducing props can make the photo stand out more. Props could include glasses, balloons, hats, umbrella etc.
Lighting is Key
Lighting is one of the most important aspect of any kind of photography. If you don’t have good light, you don’t have a good photo, doesn’t matter how skilled you are, it won’t matter. So, focus on the lighting.
Look for soft light, you can use the golden hour period for photo shooting. Consider having a reflector with you. If the light is harsh on one side you can use reflector to balance it. Reflectors works great for both indoor and outdoor shooting.
In case you are shooting is a sunny day, consider using a fill light. Sunlight can create a lot of problems, like, giving harsh shadows on the subject or burnt-out highlights. Using a fill light on the subject where the sun giving out harsh shadows can help to balance the light properly.
Focus on the Eyes
Focusing on the eye creates a sense of eye contact with the audience and creates a better engaging photograph. Your portrait will look great if the eye is in focus.
You won’t want the white part of the eye to be on focus. It doesn’t look very pleasing, so always keep the eye angled towards the camera and in sharp focused.